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Govind Rama Ho, Gopala Rama Ji-Ji
Keshava Rama Ho, Madhava Rama Ji-Ji

(Chanting and praising the Lord Krishna by calling his various names)

When the moonlight makes way for the first of the sun’s rays, when the birds start chirping, then comes Vasudeo, singing and dancing and waking the children with his melodious music.

He wears a conical crown bedecked with peacock feathers, a long and white flowing shirt, trousers and an uparna tied at the waist with a lute inserted in it. The combined sounds of the taal, which he plays with one hand, the chiplya with the other and the tinkle of his anklets beautifully complement his high treble. His entire appearance has a mesmerizing effect of young and old alike.

Literature of Mahanubhav has also described the cymbal playing, singing and dancing Vasudeo. Scholars have therefore surmised that this heritage of Vasudeo has been around for at least a thousand to twelve hundred years.

It is evident from his costume that Vasudeo worships Lord Krishna. Whether it is the peacock feathers in his crown, or the chants of Govind-Gopal (names of Lord Krishna), both signify his devotion to Lord Krishna.

Some of these Vasudeo artists are also farmers. Scholars say that these artists were originally Marathas, although now they have been given a separate caste status.

Vasudeo has the important honour of maintaining our oral tradition of songs, couplets and verses. He composes tunes to these songs and dances in his own peculiar style while performing, thus creating a positive impact upon the minds of the people. The first song that we hear early in the morning stays with us throughout the day. Vasudeo who travels from village to village is well aware of this. THus, at the start of the day itself, he advocates selfless charity and worship to Lord Krishna through his songs. Just as he does not fall short of educating the society, so also has he no qualms about asking for alms for himself. The people too, do not regard him as a beggar.

Balichya vanshi janma ghetla, Kaalicha dhanda sodu nako l
Aik paranya, tula sangato, Hari bhajlyavij rahu nako l l

(You are born in a religious house, do not leave agriculture
Listen, Ye cattle owner, keep worshipping Lord Krishna)

Vasudeo sermonizes the people at the same time as asking for help to fulfil his family responsibilities:

Tumhi Aaya Baayanno dya Vasudevnila choli
Aho lahan mulichya dya angachi kaacholi.

(All you ladies, please donate a blouse for my wife and a coat for my daughter)

This rich tradition of Maharashtra is such that it should be preserved and encouraged as it fulfils the spiritual, intellectual and cultural needs of the society. Maharashtra, tightly engulfed in the throes of globalization and modernization, will not let this rich heritage fade away. We have to bestow only a handful in Vasudeo’s bag as a token of appreciation for his contribution to the society, and he will sing Daan pavla (offering attained) and will bless us for our charity. And then his sweet lute will continue to educate the impressionable mind of Maharashtra through his songs in his melodious voice…

Balichya vanshi janma ghetla, Kaalicha dhanda sodu nako.
Aik paranya, tula sangato, Hari bhajlyavij rahu nako.
Dili devana dhansampada, garva mana madhi dharu nako
Charat gayatri sheti aali, tichya mukhavar maaru nako
Zaali mhaatari gaay baapa, kasabaala tu viku nako
Mul ghatla saalamandi, laad tyacha tu karu nako
Vahil bandhu bapaparmana, marji modun bolu nako
Pityachya vanshi janma ghetla, tyachya sevela chuku nako.
Aaichya poti janma ghetla, Vaait vangaal bolu nako.
Dogha bhavancha tanta laagla, sarkarmadhi jau nako

(You are born in a religious house, do not leave agriculture
Listen, you cattle owner, keep worshipping Lord Krishna
God has given you wealth, do not be proud
If your cows grow old, do not sell them to the butcher
Put your child in school, do not pamper him
Your elder brother is like your father, speak respectfully with him
Your father has bred you, do not shirk your responsibilities towards him
Your mother has given birth to you, do not use foul language with her
If ever there is a dispute with your brother, do not go to court but resolve it amicably between yourselves)


Ref: 1. Loksanskrutiche Upaasak – R. C. Dhere

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